Friday, September 10, 2010

TYPO Is Just a Euphemism!

The “grammar lady” is back! Actually, I would prefer to be called the “word wench,” if you don’t mind!

Anyhow…..I may not be as funny as last time I blogged here, but what I am writing today is crucial information for anyone who cares about grammar – and that’s you (isn’t it?)……

I have two new heroes. Their names are Jeff Deck and Benjamin Herson. I worship them so much that I have “friended” them on Facebook. In case you don’t know who these two bold gentlemen are, they recently returned from The Great Typo Hunt, a car drive from coast to coast of the United States in which they located and corrected typos! The journey has now been made into a book and a blog. I will give you the link later. Mr. Deck, a former spelling bee champion, and his friend Benjamin Herson found over 400 typos on their trip….and they corrected about 55 percent of them -- sometimes getting into a little hot water!

They did have some ground rules:
1. The typos needed to be in the public domain – things that everyone could see, like menus and signs.
2. They would not be unkind to those whose native language is not English.
3. They corrected only text, not any speech.
4. They learned not to correct a menu item until after the food was served!

Now, you and I both know that these really were not all typos….a typo is when your fingers inadvertently hit the wrong key, right? Those silly headlines that Jay Leno shows us are not really typos. For the most part, these are MISTAKES!!!!!

Well, as a former editor, current teacher, and author of The Best Little Grammar Book Ever, I know a mistake when I see one. Or hear one! What do you think are some of the most common mistakes in grammar (“grammar” meaning spelling, punctuation, and usage)? Well, I have a book full of mistakes, but when I really think about it, there are a very few mistakes that appear over and over and over again. I was hoping to give you a Top Ten List, but alas, I think it is going to be a mere Top Four!

In no real particular order, here are the Top Four Grammar Mistakes of the Current Time:

4. What is with that apostrophe in a plain, old plural noun?

Here are my vacation photo’s! What?? Oh, you mean photos!!

NO apostrophe in a plural noun unless it is a number, letter, or symbol (a’s, 5’s, &’s)

3. Doesn’t anyone know the difference between your and you’re anymore, or are they just too lazy to use the apostrophe? (Hint: Take the apostrophe from the plural it doesn’t belong in!)

I hope your coming with us. Huh??? Oh, you mean you’re!

2. Just because you say “Harry and I are going to the movies,” you don’t have to use I all the time. Sometimes it really is ME!

He gave the tickets to my friend and I. Well, if he didn’t give the tickets to I,
then he didn’t give the tickets to my friend and I either!

YOU CANNOT SEPARATE TWO SENTENCES WITH A COMMA!!!!! (Oh, I am sorry….am I shouting?) You just can’t. It is called a comma splice.

I hope you can attend the meeting, it will be very productive. Sorry, no way.
(Oh, is that a comma splice?) There are several ways to fix this:

I hope you can attend the meeting. It will be very productive.
I hope you can attend the meeting; it will be very productive.
I hope you can attend the meeting because it will be very productive.

If you would like more information about The Great Typo Hunt:">

If you would like to visit my website:">
(blog coming!)

If you would like to see my book trailer: (scroll down to see the video)"

-- Arlene Miller (The Word Wench)

Arlene Miller was a writer and editor for many years (newspapers, books, technical manuals) before becoming an English teacher several years ago.  She has a degree in Journalism, a graduate degree (it look seven years!) in Humanities, and a teaching credential. Originally from Boston (Bahston), she has two young adult children, no Boston accent, and lives just a bit north of the Golden Gate Bridge in California. In her former life (until about 8 years ago), she was also a tap dancer


  1. Now that was truly fun! Well, fun, that is, unless it's MY typos being discovered!


  2. I liked this post since I suffer from not just typoitis, but also from Grammar Goofitis. It is indeed difficult to be plagued by two such conditions when I enjoy writing so much! Thank you Grammar Wench for that refreshing post on the ins and outs of fool proof writing. Thank goodness for editors! By the way, I found this blog via Klahanie.

  3. Hi Carol. Yes, I'm loving Arlene's posts. In fact, I'm hoping she'll come back. We need her! I mean, I need her!

  4. Hi The Snee. Welcome. Gary is a great guy, and any friend of his is a relative of mine. LOL. Okay, not a relative per se. But ...

    Anyway, I'm glad you stopped by. Come back and we'll have tea.

  5. I've always been able to excuse typos in private communications but try as I might I can't overlook them on public signs. You'd think a person would take the time to get it right before painting something in bold text and plastering it up on a wall, window or billboard for all the world to see, wouldn't you? Guess it's obvious that's a sore point with me! :)

    Fun but informative post, thanks!

  6. I'm one of those writers who has a terrible time remembering grammar rules. So people like Arlene are gods to me. I can't imagine what we would do without them. Because good grammar is like good manners. When you have them, (novel) I'm more likely to get comfortable.

    Hi Carol. Thanks for stopping by. Have fun in Surrey. You lucky dog.

  7. Thank you all for your supportive and positive comments!!! Remember, September 24 is National Punctuation Day!

  8. That wasn't anonymous! It was me, the Grammar Wench!

  9. Great post, Arlene. My brother in law got a rejection letter from the Fire Department, telling him, "You didn't score good enough on the english esam." Yup, it was written just like that.

  10. Thanks for sharing that, Sharon. It's clearly imperative that we start teaching our kids these fundamentals. I know school teachers are trying, but it's amazing how poorly educated our youth are. Every time I shop I come across an example like you posted. Sad.

    Arlene, it was such a pleasure. You're doing a great service.

  11. Enjoyed this post, Arlene. A fun way to get your point across.

    I get annoyed with those who do not know the difference between your and you're. I mean really!

    Thanks Joylene for inviting Arlene to your blog.

  12. Thanks, Laura. Your support means a lot.

  13. Hi Joylene, (place a comma after Joylene, Gary)
    Sorry to have arrived so late on in responding to this posting by the grammor, whoops, 'grammar lady'. Or,'word wench'. Nice use of alliteration, by the way! (Note use of exclamation mark for dramatic significance).
    Anyway, did I do that right? A comma after anyway? Do I care? lol Anyway, I have been multi-tasking. Yes, a dude can multi-task. Heck, I'm typing and thinking about my next very important cup of coffee.
    'Your' means ownership. You are or you're coming with us. Did I do that right?
    The placement of a comma in a sentence is very important. When I do a play on words, I might say, 'no pun intended'. Or, I might say, 'no, pun intended'. Am I making any sense? I hope not.
    I note that one of my many admirers has mentioned they discovered this wonderful site via my awesome site, I state, ever so modestly. THE SNEE does quite the quirky blog.
    Seriously, Arlene has submitted a highly informative posting. Of course, me, 'the grammar anarchist', will continue doing everything in his own way.
    Have a great week.
    With respect, kindness, well wishes, happiness, fulfilment, inner peace, serenity and bliss, your way, Gary:-)

  14. Gary, your originality is what draws readers to your blog. Your words always surprise and delight me, and I know I'm not alone. I think the reason we hang around is the hope some of your uniqueness will rub off on us/me.

    Have a happy and safe weekend, yourself.

  15. As a former English teacher, I enjoyed your blog topic. I've found at least one typo in most of the books I've read. I'm almost disappointed if I can't find one.


  16. Hi Myra. Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment. I enjoyed your blog very much too.

  17. Aw - Thanks everyone for your nice comments! Yeah, I think there would be a comma after "anyway"!!! Note my use of multiple exclamation points! Not good, but I think mostly that is from online writing and Facebook!

  18. You're so welcomed, Arlene. I think your humour and your wisdom are a wonderful asset.


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